In a show­down with As­traZeneca, Pfiz­er posts sol­id — and very fa­mil­iar — PhI­II breast can­cer da­ta for ta­la­zoparib

Jen­nifer Lit­ton, MD An­der­son Can­cer Cen­ter

Pfiz­er $PFE came through with pos­i­tive num­bers for its Phase III study of its PARP in­hibitor ta­la­zoparib in ad­vanced breast can­cer — lin­ing up right along­side As­traZeneca’s $AZN lead­ing ri­val Lyn­parza. And the re­sults po­si­tion Pfiz­er to join the PARP line­up as the fourth play­er to toe up to the mar­ket thresh­old — though maybe not in the lead po­si­tion it was promised when the phar­ma gi­ant bought the drug last year.

An­a­lysts have been wait­ing to see how Pfiz­er’s drug, bagged in the $14 bil­lion ac­qui­si­tion of Medi­va­tion, will fare rel­a­tive to the com­pe­ti­tion. It’s a wide­ly frowned on ap­proach by the ex­perts, but mar­ket an­a­lysts love to match up da­ta from two dif­fer­ent stud­ies of the same dis­ease, of­fer­ing caveats on what could be im­por­tant dis­tinc­tions in tri­al de­signs, pa­tient pop­u­la­tions and end­points.

In this case, which begs for a com­par­i­son, the num­bers are close enough to Lyn­parza’s read­out ear­li­er in the year that it will like­ly em­pha­size just how com­pa­ra­ble these ther­a­pies can be, in­clud­ing the com­pe­ti­tion at Tesaro $TSRO (Ze­ju­la) and Clo­vis $CLVS (Rubra­ca).

Pfiz­er’s re­searchers con­clud­ed that there was a 45.8% re­duc­tion in the risk of dis­ease pro­gres­sion in the EM­BRA­CA study, which re­cruit­ed women with HER2-neg­a­tive breast can­cer with germline BR­CA mu­ta­tion. Me­di­an PFS was 8.6 months, com­pared to 5.6 months in the con­trol arm.

The over­all re­sponse rate was 62.6% in the drug arm com­pared with on­ly 27.2% in the con­trol. There were al­so 12 com­plete re­spons­es — no vis­i­ble signs of the dis­ease — for ta­la­zoparib, com­pared to none in con­trol.

“Most no­table for this study was not on­ly the im­prove­ment to date of PFS, but the time to clin­i­cal de­te­ri­o­ra­tion, which was 24.3 months for pa­tients on ta­la­zoparib, ver­sus 6.3 months for those on stan­dard-of-care chemother­a­py,” MD An­der­son’s Jen­nifer Lit­ton not­ed.

Com­pare that to Lyn­parza’s 42% re­duc­tion in the risk of pro­gres­sion, a 7-month ver­sus 4.2-month PFS — or a gap of 2.8 months ver­sus 3 months for ta­la­zoparib — and a 59.9% ta­la­zoparib vs 28.8% chemo ORR.

Both stud­ies com­pared their drug against stan­dard of care chemo.

For­mer Medi­va­tion CEO David Hung sold this drug hard in dri­ving the deal to sell his com­pa­ny to Pfiz­er for $14 bil­lion last year, claim­ing it was clear­ly su­pe­ri­or to every­thing out there. That would be an even hard­er sales job to­day, with the late-stage da­ta on dis­play.

Michael Schmidt didn’t see much day­light be­tween what Pfiz­er and As­traZeneca have on of­fer, and he con­sid­ers that a plus for Clo­vis.

Ta­la­zoparib was pre­vi­ous­ly tout­ed as po­ten­tial “best-in-class” PARP in­hibitor and most po­tent “PARP trap­per”. That said, at least based on the pre­lim­i­nary da­ta dis­closed in PFE’s (MP)press-re­lease this morn­ing, re­sults in breast can­cer look rather sim­i­lar to AZN’s (MP) OLYMPIAD tri­al re­sults of Lyn­parza which were pre­sent­ed ear­li­er this year at AS­CO. We think this bodes well for CLVS. Pos­i­tive EM­BRA­CA da­ta pro­vides ad­dl. val­i­da­tion for PARPs in breast can­cer, how­ev­er po­ten­tial lack of mean­ing­ful clin­i­cal dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion and hence a cred­i­ble com­pet­i­tive threat by ta­la­zoparib should read through pos­i­tive­ly for CLVS.

Tesaro launched the Phase III BRA­VO study to see how their drug per­formed in a sim­i­lar breast can­cer pop­u­la­tion, but not­ed back in March that it couldn’t serve as a reg­is­tra­tion study af­ter pa­tients bowed out, pre­fer­ring to get a mar­ket­ed PARP rather than chemo. The biotech went on to say that it is study­ing its drug in com­bi­na­tion with a check­point ther­a­py in breast can­cer.

Im­age: Shut­ter­stock

Francesco De Rubertis

Medicxi is rolling out its biggest fund ever to back Eu­rope's top 'sci­en­tists with strange ideas'

Francesco De Rubertis built Medicxi to be the kind of biotech venture player he would have liked to have known back when he was a full time scientist.

“When I was a scientist 20 years ago I would have loved Medicxi,’ the co-founder tells me. It’s the kind of place run by and for investigators, what the Medicxi partner calls “scientists with strange ideas — a platform for the drug hunter and scientific entrepreneur. That’s what I wanted when I was a scientist.”

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Af­ter a decade, Vi­iV CSO John Pot­tage says it's time to step down — and he's hand­ing the job to long­time col­league Kim Smith

ViiV Healthcare has always been something unique in the global drug industry.

Owned by GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer — with GSK in the lead as majority owner — it was created 10 years ago in a time of deep turmoil for the field as something independent of the pharma giants, but with access to lots of infrastructural support on demand. While R&D at the mother ship inside GSK was souring, a razor-focused ViiV provided a rare bright spot, challenging Gilead on a lucrative front in delivering new combinations that require fewer therapies with a more easily tolerated regimen.

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Part club, part guide, part land­lord: Arie Bellde­grun is blue­print­ing a string of be­spoke biotech com­plex­es in glob­al boom­towns — start­ing with Boston

The biotech industry is getting a landlord, unlike anything it’s ever known before.

Inspired by his recent experiences scrounging for space in Boston and the Bay Area, master biotech builder, investor, and global dealmaker Arie Belldegrun has organized a new venture to build a new, 250,000 square foot biopharma building in Boston’s Seaport district — home to Vertex and a number of up-and-coming biotech players.

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On a glob­al romp, Boehringer BD team picks up its third R&D al­liance for Ju­ly — this time fo­cused on IPF with $50M up­front

Boehringer Ingelheim’s BD team is on a global deal spree. The German pharma company just wrapped its third deal in 3 weeks, going back to Korea for its latest pipeline pact — this time focused on idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

They’re handing over $50 million to get their hands on BBT-877, an ATX inhibitor from Korea’s Bridge Biotherapeutics that was on display at a science conference in Dallas recently. There’s not a whole lot of data to evaluate the prospects here.

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Novotech CRO Ex­pands Chi­na Team as Biotech De­mand for Clin­i­cal Tri­als In­creas­es up to 79%

An increase in demand of up to 79% for clinical trials in China has prompted Novotech the Asia-Pacific CRO to rapidly expand the China team, appointing expert local clinical executives to their Shanghai and Hong Kong offices. The company is planning to expand their team by 30% over the next quarter.

Novotech China has seen considerable demand recently which is borne out by research from GlobalData:
A global migration of clinical research is occurring from high-income countries to low and middle-income countries with emerging economies. Over the period 2017 to 2018, for example, the number of clinical trial sites opened by biotech companies in Asia-Pacific increased by 35% compared to 8% in the rest of the world, with growth as high as 79% in China.
Novotech CEO Dr John Moller said China offers the largest population in the world, rapid economic growth, and an increasing willingness by government to invest in research and development.
Novotech’s 23 years of experience working in the region means we are the ideal CRO partner for USA biotechs wanting to tap the research expertise and opportunities that China offers.
There are over 22,000 active investigators in Greater China, with about 5,000 investigators with experience on at least 3 studies (source GlobalData).

Servi­er scoots out of an­oth­er col­lab­o­ra­tion with Macro­Gen­ics, writ­ing off their $40M

Servier is walking out on a partnership with MacroGenics $MGNX — for the second time.

After the market closed on Wednesday MacroGenics put out word that Servier is severing a deal — inked close to 7 years ago — to collaborate on the development of flotetuzumab and other Dual-Affinity Re-Targeting (DART) drugs in its pipeline.

MacroGenics CEO Scott Koenig shrugged off the departure of Servier, which paid $20 million to kick off the alliance and $20 million to option flotetuzumab — putting a heavily back-ended $1 billion-plus in additional biobuck money on the table for the anti-CD123/CD3 bispecific and its companion therapies.

Den­mark's Gen­mab hits the jack­pot with $500M+ US IPO as small­er biotechs rake in a com­bined $147M

Danish drugmaker Genmab A/S is off to the races with perhaps one of the biggest biotech public listings in decades, having reaped over $500 million on the Nasdaq, as it positions itself as a bonafide player in antibody-based cancer therapies.

The company, which has long served as J&J’s $JNJ key partner on the blockbuster multiple myeloma therapy Darzalex, has asserted it has been looking to launch its own proprietary product — one it owns at least half of — by 2025.

FDA over­rides ad­comm opin­ions a fifth of the time, study finds — but why?

For drugmakers, FDA advisory panels are often an apprehended barometer of regulators’ final decisions. While the experts’ endorsement or criticism often translate directly to final outcomes, the FDA sometimes stun observers by diverging from recommendations.

A new paper out of Milbank Quarterly put a number on that trend by analyzing 376 voting meetings and subsequent actions from 2008 through 2015, confirming the general impression that regulators tend to agree with the adcomms most of the time — with discordances in only 22% of the cases.

Norbert Bischofberger. Kronos

Backed by some of the biggest names in biotech, Nor­bert Bischof­berg­er gets his megaround for plat­form tech out of MIT

A little over a year ago when I reported on Norbert Bischofberger’s jump from the CSO job at giant Gilead to a tiny upstart called Kronos, I noted that with his connections in biotech finance, that $18 million launch round he was starting off with could just as easily have been $100 million or more.

With his first anniversary now behind him, Bischofberger has that mega-round in the bank.

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